Two NYC Street Mysteries Solved

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(photo by Kate Hinds)

As it turns out, those aren't poker chips embedded in asphalt.

For years we have wondered about letters, numbers, and other esoterica that mark city streets and sidewalks. So we reached out to New York City utility company Con Edison for some answers.

According to spokesman Robert McGee, the blue plastic disk is a Con Ed calling card. It's placed on streets that the utility was responsible for repaving. In some cases, they have numbers in the center; these designate the year Con Ed did the work.

"One of the things that has been attempted over the years is to get the various city agencies" -- as well as Con Ed, the telephone company, and the cable company -- "to coordinate on street openings," McGee said. By getting everyone on the same page, the city can try to minimize the amount of times a street is ripped up.

And those yellow letter E's that can be found on city streets and sidewalks? Also Con Ed. E7 means the road was paved in 2007.

And sometimes the Es don't have year markings.

Close up of an E on the sidewalk on West 82nd Street (photo by Kate Hinds)